Assessment of the Distribution and Abundance of Coastal Sharks in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and Eastern Seaboard, 1995 and 1996


During 1995 and 1996, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), conducted pilot studies to develop survey methodology and a sampling strategy for assessment of coastal shark populations in the Gulf of Mexico and western North Atlantic. Longline gear similar to that used in the commercial shark fishery was deployed at randomly selected stations within three depth strata per 60 nautical mile gridf rom Brownsville, Tex. to Cape Ann, Mass. The survey methodology and gear design used in these surveys proved effective for capturing many of the small and large coastal sharks regulated under the auspices of the 1993 Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) for Sharks oft he Atlantic Ocean. Shark catch rates, species composition, and relative abundance documented in these pilot surveys were similar to those reported from observer programs monitoring commercial activities. During 78 survey days, 269 bottom longline sets were completed with 879 sharks captured

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